IT is a little known fact that volleyball is currently the second most played sport on the planet so to reach the top of the discipline is no mean feat.
One teenager looking to climb that mountain is Weymouth ace Ryan Stout and he is already well on the way.
The Budmouth College sixth-form student has been digging and spiking from the age of 12 and since then has become a National Beach Volleyball champion on five occasions and last summer even got the opportunity to train with the Great Britain men’s team.
Recently, the 17-year-old was also awarded TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme) funding for this year’s beach season and is set to go full-time in just a couple of weeks with a visit to the Under-19 European Championships in Cyprus on the agenda in July.
As well as gracing the game on the sand, Stout is a bit of a dab hand indoors too where he continues to excel for Poole-based outfit Wessex VC and win regular international call-ups at under-19 level for England Junior Men.
It appears the sky’s the limit for the youngster and he is certainly not afraid of setting the bar high.
Stout told Echosport: “I got into volleyball through Graeme Sawyer, who organises the Weymouth Beach Classic every year, and my father (Jules).
“I was 12 when I first started playing and 13 when I went over to Wessex in Poole.
“I have been playing indoors there for four-and-a-half years and also playing on the beach each summer.
“Last year, I trained with the TASS athletes and this year I have actually been awarded TASS funding and will soon be going full-time until August where I will be based in Bournemouth and Boscombe.
“I will also be going to Greece to do some training in the last week of June for two weeks ahead of the Under-19 European Championships in Cyprus in July before returning to play England Beach Volleyball until the end of the summer.
“When I first started playing, I never thought it would lead to the things it has and over the past year it has also become a possible career path for me whether it be playing pro volleyball indoors or beach volleyball full-time.
“I am planning to go to university next year and I have started to look into scholarships in America and have already had a few letters of interest back, which has been great.
“Receiving a pro contract or a scholarship would be fantastic as it would be the next step towards realising my main aim of playing in the Olympics in either 2016 or 2020.”
Competing on the international stage in front of big crowds would concern some people but Stout is not fazed.
He went on to add: “I have had good experience of that sort of thing already.
“I have always played in the under-18 event at the Weymouth Classic and for the last couple of years I have also been in the main event.
“Graeme has also got me on centre court a couple of times and last year my playing partner Matt Hunter and I did the whole tour and came ninth.
“All that stuff has been fantastic and even just watching the Classic over the years has provided great inspiration.”
Stout and Hunter are currently on the lookout for sponsors to help them continue their success.
Anyone interested in supporting the duo can contact Stout on 788536 or alternatively send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org